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Twitter Chats: Manage the Overwhelm and Make Strong Connections!

Does Twitter feel really noisy to you? Kind of like a firehose of information turned up full and blasting you in the face?

You may be struggling with a case of Twitter Overwhelm.

Twitter Chats for PR

Twitter overwhelm is very real. For many, especially new users, Twitter’s speed, volume and required brevity make participation daunting, which can be problematic for PR’s. Although, as of January 2014, only 19 percent of online adults use Twitter, according to Pew Research Center, Twitter is an invaluable resource for public relations professionals.

Twitter is one of the best resources to stay on top of real-time news and trends. By following reporters, publications and competitors within your clients’ industries, you can keep track of what’s happening in real-time,” says Amanda Grinavich, marketing analyst at Shift Communications.

So what’s a PR to do?

One of the most effective ways to manage Twitter overwhelm is to participate in Twitter chats, also known as Tweet Chats.

“Twitter ‘chats’ are really just an informal gathering of people tweeting at an appointed time using the same #hashtag,” says Kellye Crane, principal of Crane Communications and founder of the #solopr Twitter chat, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary. “You don’t have to ‘join’ anywhere, just send a tweet that includes the hashtag (for example, #solopr), and those following along will see it.”

What’s in it for you?

Conversation - Twitter Chat for PR

To start off with, Twitter chats allow you to filter out the noise and focus on topics that interest you personally and professionally. Participating in Twitter chats offers you the chance to meet new people with like interests, stay abreast of the latest trends and technologies in your field, share ideas and challenges and find inspiration.

You can also build strong connections with other chat participants as many Twitter chats evolve into online communities of people who participate on a regular basis.

Popular PR Twitter chats address general topics related to public relations, marketing and business communications as well as specific, more focused interests. Twitter chats like the #solopr chat, which exists to support the interests of solo PR professionals, or #measurePR, a chat focusing on the tools and best practices of PR measurement, or #PRstudchat, a chat targeting public relations students and recents graduates, offer the opportunity for a deeper dive into specific topics.

Want even more Twitter tips? Take a look at our Twitter Marketing and Public Relations Cheat Sheet now!

How to find the right Twitter chat?

How to Use Tweetchat - PR

Finding the right Twitter chat for you is easy, although you might have to test a few to see what resonates. For starters, you can visit the TweetReports.com Twitter chat schedule and search by topic, hashtag, moderator or day of the week to find a Twitter chat focusing on a topic near and dear to your heart.

Looking for PR and marketing chats? Check out this comprehensive list, curated by Lisa Denton, social media manager for Cision, US.

PR student and blogger, Paige Vaughn, also lists chats targeting young PR professionals including #exPRessionchat and #TwistonPR, which address all aspects of PR and being a young professional, as well as #MillennialTalk, which she describes as being “the perfect chat for 20-somethings trying to make a mark in the workplace.”

Where do you start?

Twitter Art - Twitterchats for PR

After you’ve decided which chat to participate in, you’ll need to find the right tool. Kellye Crane cautions against using the web-based twitter.com (too frustrating) and recommends some of the more popular Twitter chat tool options, including tweetchat.com, and tchat.io.

“To get the most out of a chat, don’t try to read each and every tweet if it’s moving too quickly,” Kellye says.  For the #solopr chat, Kellye shares a transcript every Thursday so you can catch up on anything you missed, a common practice among Twitter chat moderators.

Here are some of the ‘rules’ for taking part in a Twitter chat.

  1. Alert your Twitter followers that you’ll be participating and you may tweet a lot for the next while
  2. Introduce yourself
  3. Be courteous
  4. Use the chat hashtag if you decide to comment or to retweet someone else’s comment
  5. Don’t start fights (sounds crazy, but it happens)
  6. Try not to hijack the guest or the moderator and allow them to comment or respond first
  7. Find the transcript after the chat and help promote the next chat

“Also, don’t be shy! At a minimum, retweet the tweets of others, so participants get to know you (which will make it easier for you to feel comfortable sharing your own thoughts when you’re ready),” Kellye says.

Sue Duris, president of M4 Communications, Inc. suggests that you follow what she describes as the four-pronged approach of online chatting: listen, engage, respect and help.

“Respect your fellow chatters – Help by suggesting resources and tools. Listen to what is being discussed. Engage either through re-tweeting, commenting or asking questions. Respect the opinions of the guest and your fellow participants,” she says.

Finally, remember, as Amanda Grinavich says, “If Twitter stresses you out, you’re doing it wrong.”

Try adding a Twitter chat to your schedule and watch how you’ll meet new people, learn new stuff, grow—and even have fun while you’re doing it!

Allen Mireles is a strategist with an affinity for technology who lives/works at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing/public relations. Want to read more from Allen? Click here!

Image: Valery KenskiKhalid AlbaihGwyneth Anne Bronwynne JonesShawn Campbell  (Creative Commons)

About Allen Mireles

Allen Mireles is a strategist and wordsmith with an affinity for technology. She lives at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing and public relations and never gets enough time in the garden. Find her on Twitter @allenmireles.

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